Reinventing the wheel: inside the Al Ain factory recycling 24,000 tonnes of tyres a year

The factory ensures used tyres are not sent to landfill, helping to take the strain off the environment

Abu Dhabi is delivering a boost to the environment thanks to a major drive to recycle thousands of tonnes of used tyres every year.

At the Gulf Rubber Factory – operated by Abu Dhabi Waste Management Centre (Tadweer) – old tyres are transformed into everything from shooting range tiles, to sound isolators and even comfortable flooring for animals.

The Al Ain plant, which opened in 2012, operates round the clock six days a week and has the capacity to process up to 2,000 tonnes of tyres a month.

“It is important to recycle tyres instead of dumping them at the landfills, because here we can produce useful and environmentally friendly products,” said Abdullah Al Kaabi, mechanical project engineer at Tadweer.

This also “eliminates the environmental risk of [leaving] accumulated tyres” out in the open, he said.

Recycling tyres comes with an economic value, Mr Al Kaabi said.

“We are generating locally made, high-quality products that are replacing imported products.”

The factory also exports its end-product to countries such as Oman.

So far, 40 per cent of the factory's recycled goods have been exported.

At the 37,000-square-metre plant, the tyres go through several cutting and separation stages using a multipurpose high-tech machine.

Tyres are placed on a "granulation line" to turn them into rubber granules or compounds of various sizes, and to extract steel.

The whole process takes about 45 minutes.

The steel is later sold to factories, and the rubber is shaped and coloured based on clients’ requests.

"Many like to use [recycled rubber] as horse mats in stables; horses feel more comfortable standing on it," Mr Al Kaabi said.

“In European countries, like Denmark for example, they use it as flooring for cows so they can be more comfortable and increase their production; here we applied the idea for horses so they can become faster.”

The rubber tiles produced at the factory can also be used as safety flooring in children’s play areas and gyms.

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